Will John Edwards’ pending admission that he fathered an illegitimate child with his mistress receive the same media attention as Gov. Mark Sanford’s admitted affair?
I don’t know about you, but I’m bracing myself for the deafening silence from the mainstream press sure to come when former Democratic Party vice presidential nominee and presidential candidate John Edwards admits what those of us with even a shred of intelligence have known for a long time now — that he not only was unfaithful to his lovely, cancer-stricken wife, not only refused to admit to the affair, but that he fathered a child with his mistress, forced a campaign aide to falsely admit that the child was his, and unlawfully paid her to keep quiet with funds from his political action committee.
Unfortunately, infidelity among politicians is far from rare. And even in the past few years, we’ve seen some startlingly interesting variations of the typical illicit affair, from a New Jersey governor admitting to the world–not to mention his wife–that he was “a gay American,” to an Idaho senator tap-dancing like Shirley Temple in a Minneapolis airport bathroom, to a New York governor better known as “Client No. 9.”
The most recent example, however, was perhaps the most strange. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford first made headlines when he actually went missing for a few days. Then, we were told that he was hiking along the Appalachian Trail. Finally, when he came home from a quick trip to Argentina, where he was shagging a mistress he described as his “soul mate,” we were treated to one of the most surreal press conferences of all time. To make matters even more interesting, Sanford was considered a possible presidential candidate in 2012.
My goodness, the mainstream press loved it. For nearly a week, the Sanford story led the news cycles, even preceding stories about landmark legislation being considered in Congress. Every commentator on the left waxed poetic about his political future, about his previous erratic behavior, about his hypocrisy as a Christian and a conservative. `
Somehow, I don’t expect John Edwards’ admission to receive anywhere near the same attention, even though he was already on John Kerry’s doomed presidential ticket in 2004 (an election that many on the left still think Kerry won), and even though his continued presence in the 2008 Democratic Party primary–as the mainstream press remained conspicuously silent on news of his affair–may have siphoned enough votes from Hillary Clinton so as to provide Barack Obama with the nomination.
Indeed, even apart from all of that, the narrative surrounding Edwards’ affair is exponentially more compelling (and more criminal) than that of Sanford’s Argentinian liaison. Let’s review:
- February 12, 1999. Edwards, at a closed impeachment hearing in the wake of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, said of Clinton: “I think this president has shown a remarkable disrespect for his office, for the moral dimensions of leadership, for his friends, for his wife, for his precious daughter. It is breathtaking to me the level to which that disrespect has risen.
- November 3, 2004. On the very day that John Kerry made official his defeat in the 2004 presidential election, Elizabeth Edwards is diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Mid 2006: Edwards is introduced to Rielle Hunter, an unknown filmmaker of questionable talent. His fledgling campaign organization pays her in excess of $100,000 to produce and shoot a few videos for the candidate and campaign.
- December 28, 2006. Alongside volunteers in New Orleans, Louisiana, Edwards announces that he will pursue the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination.
- March 22, 2007. Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, hold a joint press conference to announce to the world that Elizabeth’s cancer has returned, and that the prognosis–Stage IV with tumors in her ribs and lungs–was not good. Elizabeth swore to stand by her husband, and insisted that his presidential campaign go on. In John Edwards’ statement, he says: “I intend to do what I’ve always done with Elizabeth. We’ve been together every step of the way.”
- October 10, 2007. The National Enquirer, a popular supermarket tabloid known for sensational celebrity news, first publishes an article claiming that Edwards was having an extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter. Both Hunter and Edwards denied the tabloid’s allegations, with the latter saying that the story was “false,” that it was “completely untrue,” and that it was “ridiculous.” Nary a mainstream media outlet bothers to address the story.
- December 19, 2007. Only a little more than two weeks before the all-important Iowa caucus, The National Enquirer reports that Rielle Hunter is pregnant. Andrew Young, a former Edwards campaign staffer, comes forward and says that he is the father.
- January 30, 2008. John Edwards officially abandons his bid for the Democratic Party nomination. In various interviews, he says that he is looking forward to returning home and being with Elizabeth.
- February 27, 2008. Rielle Hunter gives birth to a baby girl. Frances Quinn Hunter’s birth certificate is noticeably missing information with regard to a father, even though ex-Edwards aide Young had just two months before claimed paternity.
- July 2008. The National Enquirer again picks up where the mainstream press refused to tread or even investigate, reporting that Edwards was caught visiting Hunter at a Los Angeles hotel. Photographs are said to exist. Witnesses claim to have seen him at the hotel. Yet, at a press conference held halfway across the country, Edwards denies it all, saying that “the tabloid trash is full of lies.”
- August 4, 2008. The National Enquirer publishes a report alleging that Hunter has been “secretly receiving $15,000 a month as part of an elaborate cover-up orchestrated by the former presidential contender.” The tabloid deems it “HU$H MONEY.”
- August 6, 2008. The National Enquirer, standing alone in a sea of silent press, releases photographs showing not only Edwards visiting the Beverly Hills Hilton, but showing him with Hunter and with the baby as well.
- August 8, 2008. Finally, Edwards admits that the “ridiculous” and “false” reports published by the lying tabloid newspaper were in fact correct, and that he was indeed having an affair with Rielle Hunter. Still, he denies being the father of Frances Quinn, and denies any financial wrongdoing.
- May 3, 2009. ABC News and other outlets report that Edwards faces a federal probe scrutinizing his use of campaign funds, citing the possible conversion for personal use of approximately $115,000 in political action committee funds — the $100,000 reportedly paid to Rielle Hunter for the campaign videos, as well as another $14,086.50 paid to her firm later. Edwards issues a statement saying that he is “confident that no funds from my campaign were used improperly.”
- August 6, 2009. Rielle Hunter turns up, along with daughter Frances, at a federal courthouse in North Carolina. She spends nine hours there.
- August 12, 2009. The National Enquirer reports that a secret DNA test confirms that John Edwards is indeed the father of Rielle Hunter’s baby girl.
- August 13, 2009. A television station in North Carolina reports that Edwards will admit paternity at some point before the close of the federal investigation. Young, the former ex-staffer, apparently has a book in the works in which he reveals the truth about the affair and the child.
From the very beginning, the mainstream press ignored this story, even though any hint of infidelity among a Republican is front-page news, so much so that the New York Times ran a front-page, above-the-fold hit piece insinuating without a single named source that GOP presidential nominee John McCain had been engaging in an extramarital affair with a Washington lobbyist. When it comes to Republican scandals of all stripes, the media will stop at nothing to tarnish reputations and ruin lives, going so far as to manufacture documents, fabricate witness accounts, and make up facts. When the scandal surrounds a Democrat, however, when at all possible the media’s silence is absolutely deafening.
For almost a week, the press feasted on the [albeit strange] news that Gov. Mark Sanford, a potential presidential hopeful and outspoken critic of the Obama administration, had engaged in an affair with a woman from Argentina, an affair that even Sanford’s wife had been apprised of months before. In Edwards, we have an absolute dirtbag who cheated on his cancer-stricken wife, denied doing so, fathered an illegitimate child, denied doing so, paid hush money out of his PAC (a criminal act), denied doing so, and was not only a presidential hopeful, but a former vice presidential nominee.
Yet, from the mainstream press, crickets are once again chirping. John Edwards’ conduct has been reprehensible, for sure, but it is the media, in actively concealing relevant facts about favored politicians, which is being unfaithful to the American people.